DoD awards Pakistan AH-1Z contract – IHS Jane’s 360

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded Bell Helicopter a USD581 million contract that includes the delivery of AH-1Z Viper attack helicopters to Pakistan. The contract, which was announced by the DoD on 26 August but awarded the day before, covers the manufacture and delivery of 15 Lot 12 UH-1Y Venom utility helicopters, 19 Lot 12 AH-1Zs, one Lot 13 UH-1Y, and 21 auxiliary fuel kits for the US Marine Corps (USMC) and government of Pakistan. Pakistan requested the sale of 15 AH-1Z helicopters in April, and this announcement is the first official confirmation that a deal has been signed. While the notification does not say how many of the 15 helicopters have been signed for at this stage, it states that 10% (USD57.9 million) of the overall contract value covers the sale to the government of Pakistan. This suggests that this is an initial deal for the first two helicopters only, with contracts for the remaining 13 (plus spares and support) to follow.

Source: DoD awards Pakistan AH-1Z contract – IHS Jane’s 360

Interesting. The AH-1Z (and the UH-1Y) were developed very specifically for the US Marines. That level of specificity would tend to make it less appealing for most operators. Indeed, most foreign air forces would generally rather operate either the AH-64 Apache, or a completely foreign design. One issue is, given the relatively small fleet size, spare parts are bound to be more expensive. Of course, given our “frienemy” status with Pakistan, it may be that the US isn’t exactly eager to share the Apache with them. For that matter, India might have asked us not to provide Apache to Pakistan.

As far as I know, this is the first foreign sale of the Viper.


3 thoughts on “DoD awards Pakistan AH-1Z contract – IHS Jane’s 360”

  1. One important factor is that the Pakistani Army has used Cobras (albeit single-engine AH-1Fs) in some of their wars against India, so they probably have some experienced Cobra pilots that could transition to the new Cobras without too much drama. Trying to stand up a completely new Apache capability would take years, if not decades if they haven’t flown the airframes before (it took us almost ten years to give the Pakistani’s any level of NVG capability on Mi-17s that they had been flying for almost 30 years…)

  2. Both Turkey and South Korea were pitched the AH-1Z in the past, though the offers never resulted in orders.

    No doubt Pakistan’s history with the AH-1 influenced the choice, but price probably had something to do with it too. For FY14 the flyaway cost of a new AH-1Z was $29.89 million, while a new AH-64E ran $35.50 million (according to these guys anyway –

    Zulu Cobras, Chinese Z-10s, Russian Hinds and maybe Havocs….Pakistan is building a very unique attack helicopter fleet.

  3. Buying aircraft is the easy part (they can always ask their rich uncle, the Saudis, for more money if that is an issue). It’s the training and maintenance side of the equation that causes real headaches for countries like Pakistan. Just looking back at the Mi-17 program, they lost dozens of birds due to ill-trained aircrew and shoddy maintenance. Same thing happened (and is happening) in Afghanistan. We help them get more aircraft and try to train their crews, they quickly crash or ground most of their fleet, then become annoyed with us when we don’t provide immediate replacements.

    Aviation advisory operations is one of the most difficult foreign engagment programs to pull off. We’ve had a couple of successes (Columbia is a prime example) and lots of failures (from China in the 1930s up to Iraq and A-stan today).

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